As a compact luxury sports sedan, the 2021 Audi A4 is easy to like and hard to fault: It’s handsomely styled, well-built, and loaded with goodies. As if that’s not enough, it handles like a sport sedan and delivers an agreeable ride. Technology takes center stage in the A4, with Audi’s cool Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display, a new 12-volt hybrid system, and a host of driver-assistance features keeping it fresh and in the hunt with its entry-lux rivals—namely the BMW 3-series, the Genesis G70, and the Mercedes-Benz C-class. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system is standard across the board, a feature its chief competitors charge extra.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Audi offers the A4 in two strengths: 40 and 45. Both are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a 12-volt hybrid system and all-wheel drive; the 40 makes 201-hp while the 45 makes a juicy 261. We haven’t driven the new hybrid powertrains yet, but we expect performance won’t differ much from the models. Although we’d love a six-speed manual, a seven-speed automatic is the only transmission. From our experience with previous model-year A4s, it changes gears quickly and smoothly. Precise steering, well-controlled body motions, and strong road-holding combine to make the A4 a sharp handler. Usually, cars with such deft responses require sacrifices in ride quality, but the A4 manages to soak up bumpy roads with aplomb. Steering feel, so important in a sedan with sporting overtones, is subdued at lower speeds and on the highway. However, almost as if by magic, the steering becomes pleasantly communicative when you push the car on twisty roads.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The A4’s modern-looking cabin does a good of balancing form and function with high-quality materials and easily accessible technology features. As in most Audis, the dashboard design is clean and simplistic—a piece of modern art. Most of the A4’s buttons and switches are right where you want them to be and feel substantial when you use them. The rear seat is among the most spacious in its class and features nicely shaped cushions. As with many of the sedans in the entry-luxury class, the A4 is accommodating but not capacious; choose the A4 Allroad wagon if you need more plentiful cargo space. The A4’s back seat does fold in a useful 40/20/40 split, making it easy to accommodate longer items such as skis. We managed to cram five carry-on suitcases in the trunk but were disappointed by the A4’s small storage bins and cubbies.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The A4’s infotainment system consists of a 10.1-inch center screen that’s controlled by a rotary knob on the center console. Features are generous and include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, Bluetooth, two USB ports, and voice command. Navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio, and in-car Wi-Fi are included in various option packages, as is a more powerful Bang & Olufsen audio system with 19 speakers. A cool digital gauge display that Audi calls Virtual Cockpit is optional, and we recommend it highly.